| By Abbey Jane

Not ye olde Christmas with the manger and the baby. We can’t compete with Bethlehem on the real thing. We’re talking about the other one. You know. The tizz, tinsel, lights, bells and booze also known affectionately as “kitschmas”. It’s no secret that the Geelong City Council, under the direction of eccentric Mayor Darren Lyons, made a genuine attempt to mark Geelong as the country’s official Christmas capital. It seems his silly season spirit lives on.

As our pretty city by the sea comes alive again thanks to high vaccination rates, so too do the twinkling lights and that floating Christmas tree. While Melbourne will always hold the candle for some of Victoria’s most famous festive traditions such as the Myer windows, our tree has its own built-in laser light and sound show. So there.

Our festive floating tree in Corio Bay is just the sugarplum icing on the cake of the magical local experiences the whole family can enjoy before Santa gears up for his annual present drop.

The famous floating Christmas tree

Arguably Geelong’s most important contribution to our Christmas capital efforts, the floating 10-tonne tree glitters in the sun during the day and lights up the sky and water at night. It is 25 metres tall and made up of 400 LED lights and 11,000 reflective discs. It powers up every evening with a spectacular sound and light show from 8.30 PM to midnight. Each show lasts for six minutes and runs every 15 minutes.

For drinks and dinner with a Christmas tree view, head over to Sailors’ Rest. Taste your first summer prawns dining alfresco in the fresh sea air, sip and sup in the upstairs lounge and bar or toast the holidays at the waterfront’s only rooftop bar. Take a moment to appreciate the welcoming glow of the heritage-listed electric bulb sign, installed in 1926 and the oldest remaining electric sign in Victoria. The illuminated letters have become a much-loved beacon for locals and tourists alike.

The floating Christmas tree on Corio Bay. Image credit: City of Greater Geelong

Our Christmas windows come alive too

Take the kids to create your own Christmas magic with this fun wand-making workshop courtesy of Christmas in Central Geelong. Visit the Love Central Geelong Christmas Hub, open from 10 AM to 1 PM from the 1st to 24th December, 2021. Once you’ve crafted and decorated your magic wand, it’s time to activate the magical windows around Geelong CBD. Find the window locations on the map here.

Tap your wand on the touchpoint and learn how Santa’s Elves, Tingle and Dingle, avert a Christmas Eve disaster at the last Geelong home on Santa’s list. If you can’t get into the workshop to make a wand, download the Central Geelong app for a free digital version.

Victoria’s BIGGEST Christmas Festival of Lights

That’s right. Biggest. And we’d put a pineapple on it being the brightest. Just 15 minutes from Geelong at Adventure Park, you can experience the pure magic of the Christmas Festival of Lights. Just about every surface imaginable is illuminated with no less than 2.7 million lights. There’s a bunch of activities for kids, plenty of fun rides and lit-up lunar lanterns, angels, the Loch Ness monster and a special Fantasyland with all manner of fairy creatures. 

This is the ultimate local Christmas night out for the whole family and anyone who loves this time of year. Sessions start from 6 PM until Christmas Eve, then 6.45 PM onwards post-Christmas. All the classic rides at the park will be open with the exception of water rides. Bookings are essential, so grab your tickets online here. The festival runs until the 9th of January so don’t miss it.

Don’t miss the Christmas Festival of Lights at Adventure Park. Image credit: Adventure Park

Plenty of Carols by Candlelight

While the 57-year-old tradition at Johnstone Park won’t go ahead in 2021 for obvious reasons, you can join the Geelong Christmas Carols event broadcast live on Channel 31 on Christmas Eve. For something a little more tangible, but somewhat less traditional, head to the Piano Bar on the 21st of December for Carols by Candelabra. It promises to be a fun show full of the glamour and glitter you’d expect from Geelong’s favourite cabaret venue.

Or, pick a church any church. This time of year, dwindling congregations everywhere welcome blow-ins on the hunt for nativity festivities, or extended family members that have been dragged along by their pious in-laws. Whether you choose your local brown-brick brutalist Baptist or classic weatherboard Anglican, there’s bound to be a gaggle of choristers busting out some Nazarene-themed bangers for midnight mass.

COVID-Safe Santa

Make that three Santas, at least. Real ones of course. Given he has special powers, he can obviously create multiple versions of himself to simultaneously appear for photo opportunities and wish list listening sessions at Market Square, Westfield Geelong and Adventure Park’s Christmas Festival of Lights. To ensure a spot at a safe COVID distance from Santa, be sure to book in advance. Book for Market Square here or Westfield here.

If you have an extra special child who would prefer to talk to Santa in a quiet environment, both centres offer bookings for Sensitive Santa sessions. These run outside of normal trading hours to ensure a calmer experience. Outside the CBD, check your local shopping centre site for even more Santa appearances. That guy is everywhere. Must be that merry Christmas magic!

Merry Christmas from Geelong.Life